Second Peoples Medical Relief Reportback Grace Keller

New York City, Nov. 4, 2012 — Note from Grace: Teams did not make up the names in this report. I made up team names in order to keep track of who was where. Teams included 2-5 members. Only participants in the report-back process are mentioned.

Team Shackleford (Redd and Rixey) drove to Coney Island and met up with a guy named Andre from the NYC Housing Authority that Moira told them about. They report that more community run kitchens and supplies centers are popping up which is great. Andre dispatched Team Shackleford around Coney Island to respond to residents in medical distress who had been identified during earlier NYC Housing Authority canvasses of Coney Island public housing. They did some canvassing and filled some prescriptions [specific streets/complexes not reported]. There is only one pharmacy open on Coney Island (on Mermaid Ave, somewhere in the 20s or 30s). Then they headed out to the Rockaways to pick up Team Persistence. On the way back they got more prescriptions to refill tomorrow.

Team Steampunk (Brian and Miriam) checked in at the Full Gospel Tabernacle at 361 Beach 42nd St in Far Rockaway. No one there had any idea where they should go. People on the street nearby asked them to look in on their neighbors. They covered a bunch of streets with regular houses on them — residents were home bound and all had major flood damage. Mostly old folks and families that didn't evac. Lots of meds shortages. Called an ambulance for a man who was having severe flu symptoms after exposure to floodwater. They feel medics should just go door to door.

They learned nothing about filling or getting scripts written. They spent some time trying to find Doctors Without Borders, who they eventually located. Doctors Without Borders gave them forms to fill out for patients who needed home visits. Then they went to 46th and 47th and checked every home there. They gathered patient information to pass on for a few houses. Unfortunately, Doctors Without Borders was gone by the time they got back. They'll pass the sheets on tomorrow. Hundreds of blocks, so few medics.

Team Persistence (with Dr. Ken) drove from Jackson Heights to Far Rockaway. After stumbling for a bit, they went to buildings 1 and 2 of the Beach 41st St Houses (433 and 453 Beach 40th St), which Team Steampunk canvassed top-to-bottom yesterday. After following up on a lead, they helped a woman refill her prescription for a blood pressure medication. Then they helped a woman in another house on Beach 40th St to refill a script for blood pressure. They filled the scripts at a CVS in Cederhurst and brought them back.

They dropped supplies off at a distribution hub at a firehouse at Beach 59 and Rockaway Blvd, and touched base with Doctors Without Borders and some street medics there. Later in the afternoon, they ran into a man whose daily home health attendant had not come for nine days, and was missing some meds, including warfarin for two days. After discussing his options with the patient, they decided to call 911. He was stable, but he may have had a history of pulmonary embolism, and he was apartment bound, and Team Persistence felt that he should have his coagulation status quickly evaluated at the least.

Moira connected Team Persistence with Team Shackleford who gave them a ride back towards home, because the Team Persistence car had died in front of 453 Beach 40th. On the way home, the two teams stopped at a building in Far Rockaway to follow up another lead and took a first step towards helping three others in two apartments refill meds.

Team Dinosaur and Team Gentlefolk canvassed the JASA projects at Seagirt Blvd and Beach 19th St in Far Rockaway. There are 6-8 buildings in the development, most at least 15 stories high. The complex manager helped orient these teams to Seagirt, then they split up.

Team Dinosaur (Roger and Fidget) completed a top-to-bottom canvass of 155 Beach 19th St. Many of the apartments in the building were vacant. In most cases, remaining residents were able to tell them which apartments were still occupied. The people they interacted with were overwhelmingly Russian and nearly all did not speak English. They were able to work with the help of Russian volunteer translators who were on site. They're not sure if translators will be present during the week. If this building is representative of the complex, Russian language skills or translators are essential for further work canvassing here. There is no power on site save for some generator power during the day in the hallways of a couple buildings.

Residents were generally happy to see them. Residents have been getting some food and water from JASA administrators and volunteers. When people requested more, the team noted the apartment and passed the information on to JASA. It seems like most residents had their doors knocked on by someone from JASA. Most of the medics' work with patients was taking vital signs and writing down prescription refill info. The most pressing medical issue is the inability of homebound and stairbound seniors to refill their medicines. Many are out of essential meds (BP, heart, diabetes, stroke recovery) and can't get more. The team passed their patient notes on to Dr. Mary, who promised she would check on the patients and do what she could to refill the meds and get them to the folks needing them. The team is still not clear on whether they're able to refill prescriptions for patients. Power is still out, and people are going to be getting very cold.

Team Gentlefolk (Will and Rev. Mary) did not complete a top-to-bottom canvass of 135 Beach 19th St. The team got split up repeatedly, making communication difficult. Every apartment on floor 22 and floor 21 was canvassed, and all scripts needing refill were given to Dr. Mary who was on the premises that afternoon. 2 nurses worked on floor 20, 16, and 18, but did not visit every apartment. The travel sucked up nearly all of their daylight. The entire apartment complex seems to speak Russian, except for a few Spanish-speakers. One of the elderly residents was in the hospice stage. She had a healthcare aid and a social worker who was checking in on her, but was very happy to see a Chaplain. FEMA has been arriving at sunset with provisions for the residents of these buildings.

Then the team went to YANA (Beach 113th and Rockaway Blvd). On her way to and from the restroom, Rev. Mary was stopped by 3 Rockaway residents who just needed a great big hug and someone to listen while they cried.

Team MJ (Marshall and Jess) first went to the FEMA/OEM staging area on Beach 113th in Far Rockaway. At the direction of the Office of Emergency Management, they went to 4 high rise (12 story) buildings right on the water spanning Beach 105 — Beach 108. Residents of the buildings were mostly elders.

No prescription needs but lots of cold issues and carbon monoxide risks; old people keeping warm by opening ovens. They did education, gave out supplies, cleared a hallway. Doctors Without Borders was there too. Team MJ and Doctors Without Borders were the first disaster aid that residents had received.

Later they were flagged down to help people on a destroyed residential street. They stopped on a couple of individual side streets and helped people in several individual (destroyed) homes and left things at a church. Apparently families have had trouble getting into shelters in Far Rockaway because they were only taking groups of 2. Something to know. Work in the Rockaways gets started very late each day because travel time is so long. The sun sets before 5 PM.

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